Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

New hospitality public-private partnership to create jobs and careers for youth in Aqaba

21 Aug 2019

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD), USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism project (BEST) and five hotels in Aqaba, signed a partnership agreement today to pilot the industry-based training program Pathways to Professionalism Level 1 in the seaside city. This entry-level program offers unemployed youth in Aqaba the opportunity to be trained to work in the hotel sector, which offers ample job opportunities.

ASEZA Chief Commissioner, Eng. Nayef Ahmad Bakheet, stressed the importance of training and employment in the workplace at private sector institutions, which provide needed workforce training and supply the job market with competent workers to meet industry needs for well-trained and qualified staff. He commended the existing and continued cooperation with USAID and the important role USAID plays in supporting Jordan’s tourism sector through several programs implemented in the past that contributed positively to the overall development of the sector, the growth and development of those working in it, and to increasing its contribution to GDP. He also confirmed efforts to reinforce this cooperation between ASEZA and several tourism development projects, particularly those implemented in the Wadi Rum Protected Area.     

Between 2019 and 2022 there are 12 new hotels opening in Aqaba, which will increase accommodation capacity by 2,600 hotel rooms. The hotels will require more than 3,700 skilled staff to operate.

JOHUD has begun to spread awareness among youth in Aqaba to encourage applications for the new program. Fifty youth will be selected for the pilot program, and each will undergo two weeks of induction training, provided by JOHUD, in areas including English language, career life skills, safe food handling and safety in the workplace. Following successful completion, they will undergo six months of professional training at the partner hotels, which are the Intercontinental Hotel Aqaba, Kempinski Red Sea Hotel, Hyatt Regency Hotel in Ayla, Movenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba and Movenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay.

The program will be certified by Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development and the Jordan Hotel Association. The pilot training at the five participating hotels will run from mid-September 2019 to mid-March 2020, after which the training program will be rolled out to other hotels in Aqaba.

Pathways to Professionalism launched in 2016 as a joint effort between the USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism project, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and the Vocational Training Corporation. It offers on-the-job training for employees of Jordan’s hotels to help meet the growing demand for qualified workers and improve standards at hotels in Jordan. Levels 2 to 4 are offered to staff with varying levels of experience who wish to develop their existing skills further. To date, 31 hotels around Jordan are implementing Pathways to Professionalism and more than 700 hotel staff have completed Levels 2 to 4 training. Level 1 is an entry-level program for unqualified job seekers to gain the skills needed to work in the hotel industry. It was first introduced at the Dead Sea hotels in 2016 and has now been expanded to Aqaba.